(Continued from Part 1 of Two)
The opening words of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities might well have been a description of the sixties, especially in the United Kingdom and the United States. Referring to the French Revolution, Dickens wrote: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity.
Contrary to my friends’ accusation that my drug-free brain absented me from really being here in the sixties, I was keenly aware of the counterculture movements of that extraordinary decade. It was the best of times because the space age dawned, it was the worst of times because of the Cold and Vietnam Wars; it was the age of wisdom because racial and gender attitudes were scrupulously examined and addressed, it was the age of foolishness because drugs were thought to enhance the mind and creativity; it was the epoch of belief because democracy had triumphed over totalitarianism, it was the epoch of incredulity because history suddenly moved into the fast lane.
The ‘flower people’ justifiably rebelled against the residue of racial prejudice, sexist attitudes, and political ideologies of the preceding generation, but they failed to equally recognize and oppose communist ideology. Instead, attracted by communal life and the concept of “a global village,” the kids flirted with communist ideals mixed with their drug cocktails, a lifestyle they could not possibly have had in the communist Soviet Union or China. At the personal level, I was saddened to see the division between flower people and the Great Generation, as it eventually was to be known.
I’ve written this ‘ blog’ in reaction to an article I’ve just read. Having appeared in the exceptionally accurate and non-partisan magazine (National Geographic, The Next Breadbasket, Page 56, July 2014) the article includes the following excerpt.
“She never saw the big tractor coming. First it plowed up her banana fields. Then her corn. Then her beans, sweet potatoes, cassava. Within a few dusty minutes the one-acre plot near Xai Xai, Mozambique, which had fed Flora Chirme and her five children for years by a corporation building a 50,000-acre farm…”
Chirme is just one of thousands of farmers whose fields are being literally trampled out of existence by a corporation in association with the Mozambique government. The farmers are not given notice that the tractor is on its way to their fields. There is no compensation for the farmers who have suddenly lost their land. Ruthless exploitation? Violation of human rights? American corporate greed? No, not this time. The corporation is Chinese.
Before I continue, let me assure you that I’m neither an apologist for corporate greed nor do I intend to make excuses for the infamous past exploitation of African treasure and labor. But, contrary to almost a century of anti-business propaganda, there is a huge moral difference between exploitation and honest, mutually beneficial business exchanges. An overwhelming majority of Americans don’t make that distinction.
They harbor an almost pathological need to accuse America of just about every real or imagined injustice, here or abroad, past or present. The very people who benefit most by living and prospering in America, bash it whenever an opportunity arises to do so. I am not referring to constructive criticism, which is healthy.
The worst of it is that their perception of America is nothing more than the residue of their grandfathers’ politics as impressed upon them by their professors. The residual political sludge in the minds of most Americans is as sticky as ever. Grandpa’s voice is still loud and clear in academia, in documentaries, in Hollywood, in the media, at the United Nations, on the streets: “America is morally indefensible, communism is the wave of the future.”
I’m sure that religious and other freedoms are too firmly ingrained in Americans for communism to be established here. But I hope that resistance to communism will be ideologically supported, and not just a knee-jerk result of residual, non-intellectual politics. I hope Americans, especially the young, will recognize that democracy is an ideology for the individual pursuit of happiness and that it is what distinguishes this civilization from all others.
It is urgent that young people realize that it is not nations that are at war, but ideologies; that ideologies exponentially outlast military conflicts; that North Korea has achieved the perfect communist state and its nuclear weapons are in the hands of backward leaders; that Iran is intent on destroying Israel and America; and that if they are to succeed, it’s lights out for Western Civilization.
A civilization happens only once. What is at stake is freedom and individual human rights. Let’s not blow it.